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The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

A Mushroom Mini Farm Makes a Magical Holiday Gift

Parents, what if I told you about an interactive gift that could get kids excited about growing food, teach them about recycling AND encourage them to try new flavors? What if, in addition to all that, there were no complicated plastic parts to assemble or step on in your stockinged feet?

That would be pretty much the perfect gift, right?

With the Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Mini Farm, kids can grow their own oyster mushrooms in about 10 days. That’s a growing period that’s well-suited to kids’ attention spans, and the growing process is kid-friendly too. They simply open the package, water the mushroom farm, and then watch their mushrooms grow day by day.

While the mushrooms are growing, you can share the inspiring story of two young people who decided to make a difference: Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez were college students at University of California Berkeley when they learned that it was possible to grow gourmet mushrooms from recycled coffee grounds. Pretty soon they were growing delicious oyster mushrooms — and keeping perfectly good used coffee grounds out of the trash!

Nikhil and Alejandro founded Back to the Roots in order to share their love of homegrown mushrooms. With support from Whole Foods Market®’s Local Producer Loan Program, they were able to buy equipment and expand into their Oakland-based headquarters. They also started to experiment with growing mushrooms in a substrate made from other kinds of organic recycled waste, including corn cobs, saw dust wheat bran and rice hulls.

In 2013, Back to the Roots was named a Martha Stewart American Made Award Winner, thanks to their innovative products and entrepreneurial spirit, and Martha Stewart Living magazine included the Organic Mushroom Mini Farm in the December issue's "Best of Garden Gift Guide."

This holiday season, Martha Stewart Living and Whole Foods Market are proud to share recipes to help you make the most of your Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Mini Farm.

Oyster mushrooms have a delicate, velvety texture and a mild, nutty flavor that shines in our Easy Mushroom-Kale Handpies. They’re made with ready-to-bake biscuit dough, and little chefs can help roll the dough and fold the pies.

Easy Mushroom-Kale Handpies

The editors at Martha Stewart Living suggest Wild Rice with Balsamic Mushrooms as a tasty way to use your homegrown Back to the Roots oyster mushrooms. The nutty flavor of wild rice will complement the savory flavor of sautéed oyster mushrooms, and kids will beam with pride when you serve a side dish with mushrooms that they helped grow themselves!

Can’t decide which recipe to try? No worries! Your Back to the Roots Organic Mushroom Mini Farm can produce more than one crop. Read the package for details.

Do you have a favorite way to prepare oyster mushrooms? Leave us your fun fungi tips in the comments!